Saturday, November 14, 2009

Debate: Wins Are Stupid

As a treat to the masses that will surely read this post, I've decided I will provide you with a little listening pleasure while reading the article. Just open up another window or tab and rock out to this song while you divulge into the pleasure abyss that will be this article.

As you may know, I lean toward a more Sabermetric view of analyzing baseball. I am not a full fledged Sabermetrician, and I may say some things that completely denounce Sabermetrics, but cut me a break I'm venting.

This post is dedicated to the Win. The "Dubya". The only way great GM's like Steve Phillips know how to accurately judge a pitchers performance. As you may know, the best way to judge a players performance is to allow factors which a player has no control over, offense and team defense, play a large role. Isn't that what it takes for a team to get a win? Good pitching, good defensive play, and scoring runs. How many of those factors does the pitcher have control over?

I made a mental note that I wanted to approach this subject awhile ago when I heard John Danks proclaim, "Wins are a stupid stat". Yes, John. They very much are. There are much better ways of analyzing a pitchers performance (WHIP, K/BB, K/9, FIP, hell even ERA).

Why are wins stupid? I will give you a couple of hypothetical situations:

1) The starting pitcher throws 4- 2/3 inning scoreless innings, comes out of the game for whatever reason (injury, coach's discretion, Pitcher violently shoulder punches the second baseman, etc...) with the score 8-0. A reliever comes in and throws 1/3 inning gives up 3 runs. The rest of the way 3 relievers combine to provide scoreless innings the rest of the game and your team wins the game 8-3.

Who gets this win? Pitcher #2. His line: 1/3 IP, 3 ER, 81.00 ERA, 9.00 WHIP, 1 W.

2) Pitcher #1 starts the game and throws 6 innings, allowing 8 ER. His coach was busy feeling up the assistant trainer to take him out of the game. Pitcher #1's team has guys like Mark Tiexiera, Stray Rod, Robinson Cano, and Jorge Posada. This team scores 10 runs, and the bullpen is fortunate enough to hold the other team. Pitcher #1's team wins 10-8.

Pitcher #1 line: 6 IP, 8 ER, 12 ERA, 1 W.

This is completely ridiculous. In an age where contracts of players have gotten ridiculously high, there should be more weight placed on peripheral stats and not on wins. Many contracts have bonus clauses if a player wins an award and most of these awards focus on the Win as the #1 stat.

The only reason ZackGrienke is not given the Cy Young without question is because of the Wins stat. Look at ESPN's Cy Young Predictor. The ONLY stat Grienke trails in is Wins (Grienke has one less start contributing to several less innings), and yet somehow he loses 189.7 "Cy Young Points" to 175.6 "Cy Young Points" (Sidebar: What is the value of 1 Cy Young Point?)

From now on when I reference a pitchers stat line, I will only place the Win category somewhere in the middle (you know, where the unimportant stats go).

I hope you enjoyed your song.

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